When Uncle Tupelo disbanded in 1993 and Jay Farrar started Son Volt, his fans enthusiastically
followed him. But when Farrar launched his solo career in the face of declining interest for new Son Volt material, some wondered if it meant the end for his band. These diehards wanted highway anthems. They wanted the myth of America, steeped in blazing guitars.
After seven years, Farrar decided it was time to revive the band and they responded with 2005’s
Okemah and the Melody of Riot. The album was a vehicle for social protest and observation, and the name Okemah is a reference to the birthplace of one of the original American troubadours, Woody Guthrie.
For Son Volt’s latest effort, The Search, Farrar enlisted the help of guitarist Brad Rice, bassist Andrew Duplantis, and drummer Dave Bryson. It marks a musical shift for the band, with keyboards replacing pedal steel and horns adding an R&B element.
While the album takes some getting used to, songs such as “Beacon Soul,” with the line “Who the hell is Dow Jones anyway?” and “Automatic Society,” represent solid attempts by Son Volt to silence critics who’ve complained about their sonic predictability and expand their horizons.
Nashville rebel Bobby Bare Jr. follows in his dad’s footsteps and brings his alt-country rock to the
Gruene Hall stage for an opening set. 8pm Fri, Apr 18, $20, Gruene Hall, 1281 Gruene Rd., New Braunfels (830) 629-5077, gruenehall.com.
- Sonya Harvey